The post that follows is a copy from Sarah's CaringBridge site. I'm preparing to transition back to my regular blog and Prematurity Awareness Day seems like a good place to start.
In the 1980's a doctor at UC San Diego received a grant from the March of Dimes. Using that grant, Dr. Allen Merritt developed a method of using artificial surfactant to mature the lungs of babies born prematurily. That grant, and the therapy that resulted from it saved Sarah's life.
Surfactant is a soapy substance secreted by cells in mature lungs that helps the lungs open and stay inflated. Like so many extremely premature babies, when Sarah was born she was not breathing on her own. She didn't cry. In fact, it was the following week before we heard her make any noise at all. Sarah's prematurity was complicated by my lack of amniotic fluid during the month prior to her birth. Her lungs were basically a sticky mess and she wasn't strong or mature enough to inflate them herself. Before Sarah was two minutes old, she was placed on a ventilator and she received her first of two doses of artificial surfactant. She was transitioned from the ventilator to CPAP within 48 hours - nothing short of a miracle given her gestational age and the circumstances of her birth.
While November is Prematurity Awareness Month, the 17th is designated by the March of Dimes as Prematurity Awareness Day. As the mom of a preemie, I, along with so many others, have been asked to blog about how prematurity and the March of Dimes have touched my life. Because of Sarah's premature birth, nothing in my life will ever be the same - I will forever look at things differently. And quite simply, the March of Dimes and the research they sponsor and support saved my daughter's life. That is a debt that I will spend the rest of my life trying to repay.
Below, I'm reposting my entry from November 1st that announces Prematurity Awareness Month. I'm happy to report that the link I provided to Sarah's March of Dimes page has raised $95. I also know of at least two other generous donations made in Sarah's honor. Please consider donating - help the March of Dimes fight...so babies don't have to.
From November 1st:
Today marks the beginning of Prematurity Awareness Month sponsored by the March of Dimes. Four short months ago, I knew next to nothing about prematurity...I never had a reason to know. Boy how that has changed! During the 31 days that I was hospitalized prior to Sarah's birth, I spent much of my time on the March of Dimes website (www.marchofdimes.com) studying statistics. Reading stories of other women in my situation. Looking for hope. Looking for someone to tell me that Sarah would survive.
Did you know that pPROM (pre-term premature ruputre of membranes) happens in only 1% of pregnancies? I believe I was more likely to win the lottery than I was to end up with pPROM. I had exactly NONE of the risk factors and my premature rupture remains unexplained. I'm at increased risk (30%+) if we ever decide to have another child.
I ruptured at 23w1d...my pregnancy wasn't even considered "viable" at that point. Generally speaking, babies born at 23 weeks have less than a 20% survival rate. 80% die.
I carried to 27w3d. 90% of babies born at 27 weeks survive. But that still means that 10% do not. And many of those survivors face life long challenges in the form of physical handicaps, learning disabilities, etc. Believe me, when you're facing delivery at 27 weeks, the fear that you'll fall into that 10%...it's paralyzing.
Too many babies are born too soon. And too many of those babies do not survive. This is where the March of Dimes comes in. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. They are dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality through research, community services, education and advocacy.
By virtue of being this site's "author", I happen to know that 654 people are signed up to view Sarah's updates. Don't worry, I don't have access to any personal info and I'm not selling mailing lists ;-) I'm floored that 654 people have even heard of Sarah! If everyone who is signed up to read these updates donated $5 to the March of Dimes, we could raise more than $3,000 to help other babies like Sarah. We could give hope to other families like mine...to other families who spend each day at local hospitals with their babies. Believe me, there are a LOT of us. And a little hope goes a long way.
So I'm challenging each of you to skip that fancy Starbucks coffee just ONE DAY this month, Prematurity Awareness Month, and donate that spare $5 in Sarah's honor. You can donate online here:
Thank you all so much for the encouragement and support that you've provided over the last three months - Sarah is one very lucky little girl!